Plans for Hollywood Bowl to take over the former Debenhams building at Westwood Cross are still on track despite the target opening date being pushed back.
The project, which will include 22 tenpin bowling alleys, arcades and restaurant outlets, had been earmarked to open this autumn.
The new target date is May 2024 with interior development works taking place from January.
The 80,000 sq ft property was occupied by Debenhams from the opening of Westwood Cross in 2005 until the closure in 2021 after the ailing chain was bought by fashion retailer Boohoo.
A Hollywood Bowl Group spokesperson said: “We are excited to bring the unique family entertainment and competitive socialising experience of Hollywood Bowl to Broadstairs.
“Construction to transform the site at Westwood Cross is due to start this November* with the target to open to guests in May 2024.
“Once complete Hollywood Bowl Westwood Cross will offer affordable family entertainment and feature 22 ten pin bowling lanes, the latest and classic amusement arcades as well as tasty food and drink for families and friends to enjoy.”
Last year planning permission was granted for external changes, which are currently being carried out, with documents showing the property divided into smaller units.
As one of the two original anchor stores, the other being M&S, there was a planning condition on the site that the two units were “not less than 3,000 square metres gross internal floorspace and totalling at least 6,500 square metres gross internal floorspace.”
The aim of the condition, approved in 2001, was to keep anchor stores at the shopping centre but retail has changed significantly since then and online shopping means there is less demand for larger department stores.
A planning application to remove the original condition so the site can be split into smaller spaces is currently lodged with Thanet council.
It says: “In an attempt to retain the vitality and viability of Westwood town centre, the owner, LS Thanet Ltd, is converting the former Debenhams unit into a leisure-based venue for Hollywood Bowl and a number of restaurant outlets.”
Hollywood Bowl will take the majority of the ground floor space – 25,482 sq ft – with three more units at that level and 37,402 sq ft of space for entertainment on the upper floor.
*A previous quote from Hollywood Bowl said work would start in January 2024 but they have now updated this to November 2023